The Portrayal Of Female Characters In F.S. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
The roaring twenties. A period of economic growth and a prime time for the realization of the American dream. Many people chose to party and buy many material possessions. The Great Gatsby is of no exception to this stereotype and is actually located in the very center of it. This was also a time of gender bias and through objectification, the descriptions of Jordan, Myrtle, and Daisy, and the actions of Gatsby, Tom, and Nick the women of the 1920’s were shown to be possessions more than people.
Daisy Buchanan is the recipient of Jay Gatsby’s affections and Tom Buchanan’s wife but this not stop her from becoming the object of men’s thoughts and even Nick Carroways. Nick says “an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget” as being one of her key character descriptions. This effectively shows that even Nick, her cousin degrades her and objectifies her to the point of being something only for men to look at and listen to as something nice for them not to forget. Also in The Great Gatsby Tom buchanan has a mistress named Myrtle to which he pays many visits to and who calls the house showing he has little care for his wife knowing of his affair because he feels as a woman she is obligated to love him while he does what he wants.
Each woman in The Great Gatsby, whether it be Daisy or Jordan have vivid descriptions of their looks and their sexual appeal more than anything, but Myrtle Wilson’s stands out the most. In the book Nick says “she carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can” and 1. Cameron Watkinseven referred to her as a “butterface. This showed how little the women themselves really mattered and they had little power over things. They were merely bodies to look at and adore. The whole book is narrated through Nick Carraway’s eyes so he is the main man who comments on the appearance of the women around him but there are also quotes he includes from the other men like Tom and Gatsby. Nick shows how he really thinks about women in his description of Jordan. He says “I enjoyed looking at her. She was a slender, small- breasted girl, with an erect carriage which she accentuated by throwing her body backward”. He makes Jordon into an object and similar quotes are expressed by the other male characters of the book as well as party goers Nick encounters who speak of them.
Due to the descriptions of the female lead characters, the objectification of the women, and the actions and thoughts of the male characters The Great Gatsby exhibits a great gender bias. This was a common characteristic of the early 1900’s and even today can still be a relevant topic of conflict. The gender separation in present day isn’t accepted as widely as it was then, but that does not make it any less real.
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